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How Do Businesses Survive Cut-Throat Competition?

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Sometimes there are more questions than answers. I once went to a meeting with an important partner to negotiate a deal; we discussed the benefits for both parties and agreed on the value proposition. Still, when it came to pricing, objectivity and rationality were placed on hold, because my product was “insurance”. It was to be priced like a commodity with “no cost of sale”.

In his words, “if you do not agree, I will call another insurance company and tell them to beat your price, then call another insurance company to beat the last price…the industry is racing downwards, and we would help them”. The story ended well because we had built a reputable record of service delivery; there’s always a place for relationship management in business. The experience left me with a lot to ponder on. The critical question being, how do businesses survive cut-throat competition? 

I do not have scientific research to back up my recommendations, but they come from a place of practical experience.

Businesses are similar to biological forms. In the words of Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent but the one most responsive to change”.

At this point, I would like to define cut-throat competition as a type of competition that defies regular market practices. Here pricing is not subject to the laws of demand and supply, cost of production etc., instead it is focused on driving revenue as a means of survival for a large number of players in the industry. 

Until the situation normalizes, it is crucial to treat your business like a portfolio, where you have clear investment objectives with different scenarios and expected returns. This implies that in some scenarios you break even and in others you make calculated losses (this should be very minimal with salient benefits such as gaining or retaining market share), or you make a good profit. If done well, the result should be an upward trajectory for your business.

In treating your business like a portfolio, you need to do the following:

  • Know your Customer and Know your Market: If your service or product is seen as a non-essential by your target market, the bargaining power of the purchaser is amplified, pitching organizations against each other as they fight for a share of the customer’s wallet. In a situation like this, you have to tailor your solutions to what the customer needs. This would involve market research, customer engagement, and hypothesis testing, as well as other data capturing techniques.
  • Know your Cost Price: For people in manufacturing, logistics, trading etc., this could be very easy, but it gets difficult as we move towards the service industry. Some service companies need adequate data and actuarial inputs to determine their cost price. Once this is acquired, you can then make informed decisions about price structure and determine the contribution margin.
  • Create your Niche. Innovate: There is a saying that goes thus, “It is foolish to keep doing the same thing but expect a different result”. You need to build unique capabilities to set your business aside from the pack. No matter how crowded a place is, there are still people that would stand out. I say this often, “There is no saturation in differentiation”. Differentiation gives you an advantage not just in pricing but in customer acquisition, sustainability etc.
  • Drive Efficiency and Build Scale: There are several ways to achieve this. Some include building optimal processes, reviewing your distribution approach, re-designing your operating model, man-power enhancement and optimization, cost management, utilizing technology as an enabler, building partnerships, leveraging on platforms etc.

Also Read: How Tech Is Enhancing Recruitment: An Interview With Sandy Simagwali, Co-Founder Of Graft Africa

  • Product Optimization: This may involve creating varied versions of the same product. It may be a “no-frills” version of your solution or bundling your solution with a variety of complementary solutions. Product optimization should be a product of customer and market interaction.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: The players in the industry can come together to decide fair pricing. This typically works better in a regulated industry. The regulator is empowered to set a minimum price for the industry, which would be more favourable to new entrants and fringe players. The decisions of these regulators often lead to mergers, acquisitions, etc. within the industry.
  • Compete: This involves the use of all capital, emotional, technical, relational, intuitive, network, and physical leverage within ethical and legal confines you may have at your disposal to put you ahead.

By: Oladele Akinsanya

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The Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship at the MIT launches Foundry Fellowship for entrepreneurs in Africa

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The Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship at MIT has launched the Foundry Fellowship, a first-of-its-kind leadership program for accomplished entrepreneurs who are considering their role in shaping the future of the African innovation ecosystems in which they work and live. At an inflection point in their entrepreneurial journeys, Fellows will learn from MIT faculty, connect with investors, and expand their network of peer innovators. The Fellowship is open to entrepreneurs working and living in Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, and Senegal.

Building on the MIT ethos of Mens et Manus (Mind and Hand), the Foundry is a place where entrepreneurs come together to reflect on their achievements and shape their futures as leaders in business, investing, and governance. The program includes an interactive online curriculum followed by a three-week immersive session that brings the cohort together to explore innovation-driven ecosystems.

The Foundry Fellowship presents a unique opportunity to bring MIT resources and knowledge to these critical innovation ecosystems and, importantly, also offers MIT an opportunity to learn from successful leaders and their innovative solutions.

Professor Fiona Murray, Faculty Director of the Legatum Center, described this opportunity to expand MIT’s innovation network “[as] a moment for the Fellows to reflect on [their entrepreneurial] journey that also allows us to learn from them. They can use this experience as a stepping-off point as they move to the next stage of ecosystem-wide leadership.”

“As a school dedicated to the development of principled, innovative leaders who improve the world, MIT Sloan looks forward to welcoming the Legatum Foundry Fellows to Cambridge and to the MIT community,” said David Schmittlein, John C Head III Dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management.

A Collaboration between the Legatum Center and The Mastercard Foundation 

Through this collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, the Foundry Fellowship will deepen the impact of leaders who are solving complex problems, creating jobs, and bringing essential services to millions through innovation-driven business models.

With the world’s fastest growing youth population, Africa is home to 4 of the world’s top 5 fastest-growing economies, has the fastest urbanization rate in the world, and has a rapidly expanding middle class predicted to increase business and consumer spending. Innovation and entrepreneurial solutions are a critical component to continued growth and prosperous people and societies across the continent. Africa’s entrepreneurs are building businesses that offer lessons in inclusion, sustainability, and value creation that extend far beyond the continent. As a global network of entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders, the Legatum Center’s Foundry offers a platform for leaders to share their stories and consider new ways to extend their impact in their local ecosystems and around the world.

Dina Sherif, Executive Director of the Legatum Center says, “To propel Africa forward and remain competitive globally, we need innovation-led entrepreneurship and robust African entrepreneurial ecosystems. The Foundry Fellowship supports African entrepreneurs to transition to entrepreneurial leaders who work with various stakeholders to strengthen and improve their ecosystems.”

The Foundry Fellowship is a competitive program for outstanding entrepreneurial leaders working in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda. The Legatum Center will accept nominations from May 3 – May 20, 2021. A nomination is not required to apply; entrepreneurs are invited to submit an application directly. All nominees and applicants must submit a completed application by 11:59 PM EDT on June 10, 2021 to be considered for the program.

Nomination and application information is available at The Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship

An initial cohort of 15 Fellows will be selected for this fully-funded program.

 

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AI Expo Africa, Wesgro, and Zindi launch the Deepfake Africa Challenge

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AI Expo Africa, in partnership with Wesgro Film and Media Promotion and African Data Science competition platform Zindi, has launched the Deepfake Africa Challenge in a bid to raise awareness about deepfake media, tools and ethics on the African continent.

Deepfakes have been prominent in the news in the last two years as the tools and platforms that allow for such content to be produced are widely available and easy to use by both skilled and casual users.

While some deepfakes can be used to create fun, viral videos or new synthetic applications such as digital avatars that have multiple applications, they also can be used to manipulate or generate visual and audio content with the potential to deceive with subsequent negative impacts for people, organisations and wider society.

Dr Nick Bradshaw, founder & CEO of AI Media the company behind AI Expo Africa, stated, “The objective of the challenge is to create convincing deepfakes to highlight the power of this synthetic media, illustrating its creative potential for exploitation for both positive and negative outcomes and focusing debate about its ethical use or mis-use in an African context. We partnered with Zindi as they have the largest community of Data Scientists in Africa, and Wesgro Film Unit to tap into the award-winning creative industry based in the Western Cape, South Africa. This challenge is open to both creative and technical talent across Africa. We look forward to seeing the outcomes from the submission.”

Wesgro Film and Media Promotion head Monica Rorvik commented, “Deepfake media can have negative outcomes. This challenge serves as an opportunity and platform that we can leverage during this interesting time of the “Pandemic of deep fakes” – and by working together, and checking facts, we can learn together and gain some herd immunity.”

Zindi co-founder and CEO Celina Lee stated “Deepfakes are fast becoming a challenge of our time. Through the Zindi platform we are seeking to tap into the collective insights and creativity from twenty-six thousand African data scientists to shine a light on this topic and create debate about the potential harms these media and tools can do from a uniquely African perspective.”

Submission and evaluation

Submissions are welcome from across the African continent and from relevant communities including researchers, developers, content creatives and film makers. The winning submissions of the Deepfake Africa Challenge will be showcased at AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE between 7 to 9 September.

Submissions for the Deepfake Africa Challenge can be either video or audio based. Each submission should be no longer than 90 seconds in length (MP4 or MP3 preferred final format). The content submitted must not be offensive or harmful in anyway and any submissions deemed to contravene this rule by the judges will be immediately rejected.Winners must be citizens of an African country and must be residing in Africa.All entries will be judged as follows:
  1. Artistic creativity and relevance to the challenge topic
  2. Level of innovation used in the process to generate the content
  3. A short explanation of platforms, tools and techniques used to generate your submission will greatly enhance your submission and are encouraged so we can build a picture of the most common tools and techniques used

The judging panel will be made up of representatives from Zindi, The AI Media Group and Wesgro. The judge’s decision will be final.

Prizes

1st Place Winner: Complimentary ticket to join AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE (including 1x return economy flight & 4x nights hotel stay B&B courtesy of Radisson Blue to join us at AI Expo Africa 2022). The 1st Place Winner’s flight is eligible to delegates joining from outside the host city capped to $1000 using economy class fare. Expenses and visas are not included.

2nd and 3rd prize winners to receive 1x complimentary ticket to AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE.

Top 3 placed winners will have work showcased at AI Expo Africa 2021 along with write up and press mentions.

Timeline

The competition closes on 30th July 2021. Final submissions must be received no later than 11:59 PM GMT 30th July 2021. Winners will be notified and announced by 17 August 2021 with the winning submissions being showcased at AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE between 7-9 September.

The challenge organisers reserve the right to update the content timeline if necessary.

 

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Possibilities of Making Profits On Crypto, Risk-Free

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Over the course of the last decade, cryptocurrencies have experienced unprecedented growth and garnered a lot of interest across a range of demographics from all over the world. Interest in digital currencies is spiking globally and search terms such as “how to buy Bitcoin” have seen an uptick in interest according to Google trends. This is just one of many indicators that suggests a notable influx of people are entering the blockchain space and looking to explore the crypto ecosystem.

While the market cap of digital assets has varied extremely with price fluctuations, it, however, grew from about US$10 billion in 2013 to about $237 billion in 2019. Also, in the last 5 years, the increase in Bitcoin (BTC) private accounts and trades has averaged about sixty percent every year. Currently, the market cap for digital currencies is just above $2 trillion.

Even though many people have made early gains in digital assets, the cryptocurrency space is still in the early phase of development. The Internet for example, was created in 1969 and the “worldwide web” was designed in 1989 and subsequently the first web browser in 1990. Compared to those revolutionary technologies which massively transformed the communications landscape, blockchain technology is nascent and cryptocurrencies have only been in use for only a decade.

Crypto goes mainstream

Social media has exposed a lot of people to the crypto industry. The mass media is quick to broadcast the movements in bitcoin prices, leading to FOMO and FUD or the hysteria that sometimes characterizes crypto markets. Overall the ever growing coverage has done more to spur further development of new innovations within the space.

The price increase of cryptocurrency will probably be boosted by increased cryptocurrency adoption. While many institutions have started to invest and buy Bitcoin, there are still a lot of firms waiting in line to invest and buy Bitcoin. The average volume of digital assets transacted on any given day is just one percent of the FX trade. Regardless of cryptocurrencies increasing to more than $2 trillion in market cap according to Coinmarketcap, digital assets are still a tiny fraction of global equity trade ($34.8 trillion in 2020) and worldwide debt trade (over 281 trillion in 2020) according to Bloomberg.

With more institutional adoption of Bitcoin and other digital assets, traders and investors are presented with more chances to make money in the digital asset space.

How to make money with crypto

There are several ways of making profits with digital assets. Given that digital assets are basically volatile, many digital assets involve a great level of risk while some need greater expertise. It is important to have prerequisite knowledge about digital assets before you buy bitcoin.

One of the ways of making profits with cryptocurrency is through investing. This is generally for long-term purposes. It requires you to buy Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies and hold them for a chosen period of time. This can be done via different traditional crypto exchanges or P2P platforms like Remitano. Digital assets are usually well-suited to the investing practice of buying low, holding and then selling high. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile in shorter timeframes, however, they typically and have historically offered a much more lucrative upside over long periods compared to traditional investment vehicles.

Studies have also shown that most BTC profits are realized in the ten best trading periods of the year.

Due to cryptocurrencies being naturally volatile, investing for a long period is one of the ways of making profits with cryptocurrency. Just like with any type of investing, risks have to be thoroughly considered and expectations of rewards have to be managed well.

Another way of making profits with cryptocurrency is to trade digital assets. The most notable difference between investing and trading is the general time frames between entering and exiting positions. Investing is for a long period, while trading is basically to leverage opportunities over a short period. To trade digital assets successfully, it is important to know the basic fundamentals and have the capability to conduct technical analysis in order to avoid making costly mistakes.

Making profits via trading cryptocurrencies is more about knowing the price trend and pattern and utilizing it to forecast future value, many times over a short period. Find out the 20 best platforms to buy Bitcoin and other digital currencies in South Africa.

What is the possibility of making profits on crypto, risk-free?

Trading digital assets sounds relatively easy, however, due to the highly volatile nature of crypto assets, it involves a lot of risks. One of the ways to make profits on cryptocurrency with relatively low risk is by doing cryptocurrency arbitrage. This trading method exploits price and demand gaps between different digital asset marketplaces. But, the trades have to be done almost instantaneously to realize gains.

Arbitrage Trading

Crypto arbitrage involves exploiting price differences on different crypto exchanges for your benefit. This method is effective in places where bitcoin price varies from one exchange to the other like in South Africa and Nigeria. The price differences could be a result of several factors.

Arbitrage trading involves buying bitcoin or other digital assets from one exchange and selling it on other exchanges at a higher price. Selling the asset after the purchase must be done relatively quickly to avoid price movements narrowing margins or leading to loss at times.

Exploiting the price difference using the cryptocurrency arbitrage technique requires a cryptocurrency market that has price discrepancies depending on the supply and demand in the different markets.

Remitano Invest

Another way to make money risk-free is with Remitano Invest. Remitano invest allows you to buy and invest in cryptocurrencies without putting your capital at risk.

How?

With the Stop Loss and Take Profit features, your crypto asset will be liquidated to USDT (a stable coin) to prevent loss and maximize your profit. You simply set the auto sell price for the Stop Loss and Take Profit. When the asset you have invested hits your Take Profit price, Remitano Invest converts it into USDT to secure your profit. However, if the asset’s price falls to your Stop Loss price, the system will convert it into USDT to help you secure your capital and prevent further loss.

Risks and benefits are an intrinsic part of most money markets and they go hand in hand. Risks cannot be eradicated but they can be managed. Some risks can be managed by utilizing effective risk management practices. Personal risks like wallet hacks, coin theft, and loss of access to funds can be offset by making sure you implement good security practices.

Article & Image source: Heath Muchena

 

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